DEPLOYING THE JEEP CARRIERS. Three US Norfolk-based amphibious assault ships set out for Persian Gulf Saturday.

In this evening's policy statement, President Bush mentioned the deployment of another carrier battle group to the Middle East and the provision of Patriot batteries. What's that Tom Clancy line about "rattling a saber makes noise, drawing it does not?" Immediate press coverage does not note this detail. Iraq's government might be taking a tougher line toward militias. What's that aphorism about the government holding a monopoly on violence?

Under pressure from the U.S., Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has agreed to crack down on fighters controlled by his most powerful political ally, Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric, according to officials. Previously, al-Maliki had resisted the move.

"Prime Minister al-Maliki has told everyone that there will be no escape from attack," a senior Shiite legislator and close al-Maliki adviser said. "The government has told the Sadrists: 'If we want to build a state we have no other choice but to attack armed groups.'"

Senator Durbin, of Illinois, delivered the Democratic rebuttal. Interestingly, at the same time he's objecting to more troops being sent to the region, he's asking the Iraqi security forces to stand up faster. Where was I just reading about nation-building efforts being more effective if the locals were doing their own building? At the same time, the Democrats may be playing bad cop to the President's good cop in eliciting improvements from the Iraqi government.

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